Menstrual Products Will Be Free in All New Hampshire Public Schools
The governor signed a bill into law that will increase access to tampons and pads for students.
Adolescence is tough, but girls have the added stress of managing their periods while juggling classes, extracurriculars, their social lives, etc. It's not uncommon for young women to get stuck at school without a pad or tampon—especially if their family is struggling to cover the cost. But that's something one state plans to make a non-issue for young women. On Wednesday, July 17, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) signed a bill into law that requires free tampons and pads be provided in all female and gender-neutral bathrooms at public middle and high schools.
Sununu tweeted that the "legislation is about equality and dignity." He continued, "SB 142 will help ensure young women in New Hampshire public schools will have the freedom to learn without disruption—and free of shame, or fear of stigma."
The law, referred to as the period poverty bill, was co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Polly Campion, who said in a statement that "being an adolescent middle or high-schooler is hard enough without the fear and embarrassment of lacking proper care products during the school-day because you cannot afford them." She elaborated, "Providing access to free menstrual care products in public middle and high school bathrooms is not idealistic, it’s a basic, essential measure for equality and is long overdue."
According to the Associated Press, high school senior Caroline Dillon lead the effort on the bill after learning how many people are forced to miss school or work because they can’t afford menstrual products. Dillon then worked with Democratic state Sen. Martha Hennessey to draft the measure in March and testified in front of the state Senate’s Education and Workforce Development Committee in February.
The Concord Monitor reported at the time that the 17-year-old told the committee, "It’s very difficult to go to the nurse multiple times every single day for a week every month. ... It was sad to think about. Girls in middle and high school would never dream of telling somebody that they have to miss school or use socks because they can't pay for pads."
New Hampshire isn't the first state or city to pursue and enact menstrual equity legislation. In June, Boston brought free menstrual products to all public middle and high schools. New York state, Illinois, and California are doing the same for their female students.
These cities' and states' moves are long overdue. As Boston Mayor Marty Walsh pointed out in his statement last month, nearly one in five girls in the U.S. have left school early, or missed school all together because they didn't have access to menstrual products. Props to these lawmakers for taking concrete action that will have a tremendously positive effect for young women.